While storm damage is bad news for a homeowner, it can mean big business to insurance restoration roofers with the experience to streamline the process, and scale their operations as needed. Knowing how to accurately identify storm damage, in additional to the proper processes for documentation means you can make the most out of what you see, and feel assured that your inspection will match with the insurance carrier. Having an entire staff this knowledgeable and confident will have your entire company waiting on the edge of their seats for the next big storm.
Wind and Hail: Seen and Unseen Damages
Two of the most common forms of storm damage are hail and wind. While each are destructive in different ways, both can be very harmful to a roof.
Hail can fall in a range of sizes, from pea-sized to grapefruit-sized, and while smaller hail can leave dents in metal vents and gutters, larger hail is where the real damage occurs. Larger hail can knock granules off of shingles, leaving the asphalt of the roof exposed to harmful UV rays. In some cases, hail can even strike hard enough to damage the integrity of the shingle, fracturing the fiberglass mat underneath.
Severe wind can also be very damaging to a roof. When strong winds blow at the right angle, the adhesive strip on the shingle can fail, causing it to pull loose. Wind can also cause the shingle to pull through the nail tacking it down and result in a tear.
These damages from hail and wind might not be entirely evident at first, allowing the elements to do harm to the roof for extended periods of time before they are noticed and fixed.
Testing for Damage
There are multiple kinds of tests you can perform to identify damage on a customers roof. One way is to check a test square on each face of the roof and count the damage per square. This is especially helpful for large or difficult to canvas roofs. Using a sample area gives you an idea of what the damage may be on the entire roof.
Handheld infrared cameras are another option when searching for damage, especially if you believe storm damage has lead to a leak in the roof. The difference in temperature between water and the rest of the home should indicate if there is a leak.
When you discover damage on a roof, you will want to document it correctly. Adjustors will sometimes ask for evidence of damage from your inspection, so it is always a good idea to take a picture of any damage you see and record where it was found. You should also record your test square findings and be prepared to share them with the homeowner or insurance adjustor. Making note of these findings can help convince homeowners that their roof should be looked at by someone from the insurance company and saves time for the adjuster once they do.
When a large scale storm passes through your area, local roofing contractors are immediately at at huge advantage when it comes to generating new customers quickly. Having the necessary tools and additional staff on hand ensure your company can take advantage of every opportunity is critical, and can be done by implementing procedures and programs
that increase production.
Be Accurate and Thorough - With a Dash of Skepticism
While identifying damage and documenting it is important, to be an expert you must be accurate as well. Misinterpreting storm damage can lead to erroneous evaluations that hurt your reputation both with clients and insurance companies, as well as wasting time having to reschedule home visits and tests. Sometimes what appears to be storm damage is actually just normal wear and tear.
The first step to avoiding misinterpretation is to use common sense. Was there a storm in the area recently? Does the area you are in typically get larger hail? Answering questions like these can help you determine the cause or plausibility of damage to the roof.
Next you should try to determine what else it could be. For example, acorns can leave marks that look a lot like hail damage, so look around for large trees that could be the real culprit. A large part of this step is to look for patterns. True storm damage should be random, like nature, so if you see any patterns you should look deeper into the evidence of damage. Loose shingle granules only in areas that have high worker traffic, such as near a satellite dish, might simply be the result of people walking along the roof. Hail pock marks that only appear in the shade might actually be spots caused by lichens growing on the roof. Keep your mind open to other possibilities in order to avoid making a mistake when assessing a roof.
You can also look for other clues that indicate storm damage really did occur. Hail leaves small dents on soft metals, so checking the gutters and vents for dimples can tell if there really was hail in the area. Finally, there are guides and handbooks, such as HAAG’s Composite Roofs Damage Assessment Field Guide, that give examples of what certain damage looks like. These can be used to compare and identify damage on your customers roof, helping ensure you are classifying it in the same way an insurance company might.
Training Your Field Staff
In order to avoid mistakes while assessing a roof and profit from the storm season, all of your staff should be experts on storm damage. How do you do this? The most common way is to train with an expert. Send new hires along with your experienced people so that they can gain first hand experience.
You can also become certified by taking a class. HAAG offers inspector certification classes for commercial roofs, residential roofs, and wind damage that can teach your employees all they need to know to become an expert in storm damage. Certified inspectors are less likely to make mistakes, and you can advertise your expertise over your competitors.
Identifying storm damage can be a tricky business because there are so many ways a roof could be damaged or worn out. Add on top of this the subjectivity of how an insurance company decides to define damage and you can have quite the task on your hands. However, if you and all of your employees are experts in storm damage, you can confident with your work and be sure that your company will profit every time a large storm rolls through.
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